Napoleon II, Duke of Reichstadt

NOBLEMAN (FRANCE)
BORN 20 Mar 1811, Paris - DIED 22 Jul 1832, Schönbrunn
BIRTH NAME Bonaparte, Napoléon François Charles Joseph
CAUSE OF DEATH tuberculosis
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Dôme des Invalides

Son of Napoleon I Bonaparte and Maria Louise of Austria. As heir-apparent he had the courtesy title King of Rome. He was also known as "L'Aiglon" ("The Baby Eagle")

In 1814, when he was only three years old, his father abdicated in his favour. His mother took him to the Château de Blois, until Napoleon I regained power. Buy after 100 days he was forced to abdicate again in favour of his son. He was recognized by the parliament as emperor on 22 Jun 1815, but the Allies ended this situation as soon as they entered Paris on 7 Jul 1815 and the Bourbons were restored on the throne of France.

His mother took little interest in him and on 30 Jun 1815 she gave him over to Count Dietrichstein, who was to take care of his education. This task was assigned to Matthaeus von Collin during the same year. He was taken to Austria where he was called Franz and lived like a prince as well as like a hostage. In 1818 he was appointed Duke of Reichstadt.

He was lonely and unhappy at the Austrian court. There he knew Sophia of Bavaria, who was married to the weak archduke Franz Karl. On 21 May 1832 she wrote in a letter to her mother that Franz was sick of tuberculosis and that she was afraid he might die before she would return from giving birth to her child. At the time there was talk that Franz might be the father of the child (Maximilian, who would be the luckless emperor of Mexico one day). She met him again on 4 Jul 1832, two days before Maximilan was born and unfortunately her fears were justified: Franz died on 22 Jul 1832. There was talk that he was poisoned, but this was never proven.

In 1940 Adolf Hitler ordered the transfer of his remains from Vienna to Paris, where he was buried in the lower church of the Dôme des Invalides, not far from his father. His heart and intestines are still at the Ducal Crypt in Vienna. In 1852 Napoleon I's nephew Louis Napoleon came to power in France. He decided that he would be Napoleon III himself and that Reichstadt should be referred to as Napoleon II.

Family
• Father: Napoleon I Bonaparte
• Mother: Marie Louise, Empress of France, Duchess of Parma

Related persons
• was painted by Gérard, François, baron
• was a friend of Prokesch von Osten, Anton, Graf von
• was a friend of Sophie von Bayern

Events
30/6/1815Marie Louise hands over her son to Count Dietrichstein. Dietrichstein would become responsible for the education of her son. The Austrians forbade him to use the name Napoleon and he received the title Duke of Reichstadt instead. [Marie Louise, Empress of France, Duchess of Parma]
21/5/1832Sophie von Bayern predicts Reichstadt's death [Sophie von Bayern]
4/7/1832Last meeting between Sophie von Bayern and Reichstadt. Two days later Sophia's son Maximilian was born. Reichadt, also known as Napoleon II, died on July 22th. He and sophia had been close friends and possible they had been lovers. [Sophie von Bayern]
7/11/1852The Duke of Reichstadt is to be called Napoleon II. This was decided by the future Napoleon III beause Napoleon I had abdicated in favour of his son, who had therefore been emperor for a few days. [Napoleon III Bonaparte]

Images

Napoleon II was buried at the Dôme des Invalides, Paris.
Picture by Androom (17 Nov 2006)

 

Sources
• Haslip, Joan, Imperial Adventurer: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, and his Empress, Cardinal, London, 1974
Point de Vue (Images du Monde), Point de Vue, Créteil
• Thompson, J.M., Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire, Norton, New York, 1967
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909


Napoleon III Bonaparte

Published: 17 Dec 2006
Last update: 26 Jan 2022